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Meet Pallas, the Asteroid That Used to Be a Planet (But Now Looks Like a Golf Ball)

22 May 2020, 19:45 UTC
Meet Pallas, the Asteroid That Used to Be a Planet (But Now Looks Like a Golf Ball)
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3D model of Pallas made from SPHERE image data. Credit: ESO/M. Marsset et al./MISTRAL algorithm (ONERA/CNRS)
No, it’s not a golf ball fished out of the lake; this is an image of Pallas, the third most massive object in the main asteroid belt after Ceres and Vesta. New 3D models made from observations taken with the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope show details of Pallas like never before possible, revealing an extensively-cratered surface reminiscent of… OK yes, the dimples on a golf ball. (I like to think Al Shepard would have approved.)

These new images show that the surface of Pallas displays very interesting topographic features suggesting a violent collisional history. Numerous large craters are found in both hemispheres of Pallas, forming a surface resembling a golf ball. The bright spot which appears in the southern hemisphere of Pallas (right image) is also very reminiscent of the salt deposits on Ceres. Credit: ESO/M. Marsset et al./MISTRAL algorithm (ONERA/CNRS)
From ESO on Feb. 24, 2020:
A new study led by Pierre Vernazza (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France) conducted using ESO facilities has observed the asteroid Pallas for the first time at extremely high angular resolution. The asteroid could be ...

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